Tuesday

Getting to 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have It All (Book Tour)


(I received two books as part of this book tour.) 

I had the honor of being asked to participate in a virtual book tour for Getting to 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have It All, by Joanna Meers and Sharon Strober.  This book is all about trying to help working mothers make decisions to improve their effectiveness at work and at home. So, I was excited when I was asked to participate in this tour. The premise of the book is that if women can equally divide household duties they can remain employed full-time, raise their children and achieve happiness.

Marry the Right Man, Have the Right Life

 

There is a foreword by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that reads, “We have a long way to go before we achieve equality. 50/50 is not just the fair thing to do, but the better thing to do for a family.”
In many ways Getting to 50/50 reiterates some similar themes from Sandberg’s “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”. One of which is true partnership in the home is essential or as I like to phrase it, “marry the right man and you will have the right life.”  Neither book really offers much to women if they are unlucky and  fail to have a true partnership at home. Perhaps they are destined to fail?  I guess that answer is in someone else's book.

 

Dividing Household Duties 50/50 is the Key to "Having it All"

 

 

I agree with the excerpt below, which says that success does not require a 24/7 commitment to your job.  Nobody can be perfect all of the time. So, it’s encouraging to know that Meers and Strober are not asking us to try to be perfect.
Instead, they are simply asking us to commit to working and parenting. They believe that working mothers can achieve success if they stay in the workforce and wives and husbands divide household duties 50/50. So, instead of judging women and asking us to do more, they are asking men to step up, big.
They don't say that getting to 50/50 will be easy. Instead they argue that it is worth it because it will benefit our work, our marriages and our children.  They base this argument on their own experiences as well as their research.
In my experience, working and parenting is hard, damn hard. It is a journey full of winding roads and compromises. It's especially challenging when your children are very young. I believe that the decisions that mothers make during those years are different than those made when their children are older.  "Getting to 50/50" is a laudable goal, but it's challenging and it takes time.  I am curious about what working mothers are supposed to do before they get there.
Below is an excerpt from the book.  This chapter encourages women to work smarter and not longer. I recommend it for any mom who is trying to “have it all” without losing her mind.

Prioritizing is the Key to Having it All


Chapter 5: Success Does Not Require 24/7
We started our careers in two time-intensive fields—Joanna in law and Sharon in finance. We each looked around our offices and saw men working 24/7, and women doing the same thing—until they became parents. In our mostly male professions, long hours were not only a badge of honor and a sign of status; they were a necessity for anyone who wanted to get ahead. It was clear who the working mothers were (a handful of women who tried to keep more normal hours), but it was hard to tell who the fathers were. Single or with four kids at home, all men arrived at work early and went home late—or so it seemed. Talking to men and women in all kinds of jobs, we heard the same story. As young people starting out they, like us, got this message: To succeed, you need to work all the time.
To work all the time, you need to be (or act) childless.
We’ve been lucky to learn this is not true—but only after many years of laboring under the delusion that it was. We’ve all been duped into thinking that more is better when it comes to our jobs, that somehow the more time we spend at work, from offices to hospitals to test kitchens to newsrooms, the more productive we’ll be. It starts from a belief that’s largely right: That hard work is good (which it is), that we can do a better job if we put in more hours (which was true when we were talking about bringing the harvest in before the crops froze). “It didn’t use to be this intense,” says Bill George, who ran Medtronic and now sits on the boards of global companies like ExxonMobil. “It got much worse starting fifteen years ago.”
Compounding the problem, some of the most hardheaded leaders romanticize 24/7 life…  
Something happens to our sense of time when we become parents. Time becomes a prized commodity, something we’d rather not waste. When our time is being misused—by either ourselves or others—we want to punch the clock, literally. It’s always aggravating when the person who called the 2:00 meeting shows up at 2:15 and then blows another fifteen minutes off topic. It’s even worse when you’d like to leave by 5:15, not 5:45. That’s half an hour your child will be waiting for you at day care (accruing those infuriating late fees.)
“‘This is the dumbest meeting I’ve sat through in my life.’ That was all I could think. It was an important client but we weren’t using our time well and I had to leave to make my daughter’s event,” said Grace, the advertising executive. “Before kids, I’d bought into this idea ‘I’m a partner at this big firm and this is what we do.’ But when there are kids who need you for specific things, you acknowledge the truth—that we spend a lot of time doing stupid things at work.”
It gets harder to see 24/7 as heroic when you know how much it hurts the well-being of kids (and of your marriage and spouse). You can’t get good results unless you put in good, hard work, but as Doug, a professor of psychiatry, says, “Sometimes I think we overdo it. When people feel they’re expected to be at the office for twelve hours a day, they spend a lot more time bullshitting at the water cooler.”
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